Alternatives: One Million Climate Jobs

This post is part of a series examining the alternatives to cuts and austerity. The Campaign Against Climate Change produced a report calling for the creation of 1 million jobs to invest in a sustainable future.

We face two big problems right now – the economic issues created by the financial crash of 2008 which is being made worse by the austerity agenda of the Condem coalition, and the twinned problems of climate change and peak oil.

The 1 million green jobs plan would work towards tackling both of these problems, by creating an economic stimulus which is focused entirely on reducing our carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.

They have estimated a net cost of creating these jobs to be £18bn per year – a small amount compared to the £120bn of tax that gets dodged each year, or the hundreds of billions that have been poured into the banking system.
At the same time as creating economic growth and directly providing jobs, this would work towards making the UK a sustainable, zero-carbon economy – an aim that we must meet if we are to prevent catastrophic climate change and reduce our dependence on an oil supply whose production peaked in 2005.

In Birmingham, we could create jobs in the construction industry, as we strive to make our housing stock environmentally efficient. Much of Birmingham’s housing is solid wall, and would need external insulation systems to bring it up to the insulation standards that can be achieved with cavity walls. With rapidly rising fuel prices, government investment in our council houses could also help people who are likely to be on lower incomes to move out of fuel poverty. Grants could be given to help elderly and vulnerable adults in housing association or private housing to insulate their homes.

We could also see jobs being created in the manufacturing industry, building and supplying the equipment that will be needed to create renewable energy systems, such as wind turbines or tidal barrage generation. We might see a revival of the once huge bicycle manufacturing sector, if money is spent to build cycling infrastructure and encourage people to swap their car for a bike.

The Climate Caravan will be in Birmingham on Thursday 15th May, promoting 1 million climate jobs. Go along to one of their events to find out more about this alternative:

11.00am to 12.30pm Prices’ Square, Northfield, as guests of Northfield Eco-Centre

1.00pm to 5.00pm Birmingham Cathedral on Temple Row, Birmingham B3.

7.00pm Public meeting in the Council House – (committee Rooms 3 and 4) Victoria Square, Birmingham, to hear local and national speakers from a number of campaigns.

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12 Comments

Filed under Alternatives to Cuts

12 responses to “Alternatives: One Million Climate Jobs

  1. Rob Marsden

    A few disjointed thoughts…

    The Con-Dem coalition has used the shock of the economic crisis as a battering ram to try to hammer through neo-liberal policies (deregulation of the state schools sector, opening up the NHS to privatisation, waging war on pensions and on workers rights, terms and conditions in a race to the bottom) and also as an excuse to put off any meaningful steps to de-carbonise industry and protect our environment.

    For those reasons an alternative economic strategy of revitalising and rebuilding the economy on a sound, sustainable, zero-carbon basis is of the utmost importance.

    There is an excellent chapter on this, by Sean Thompson of the Green Party / Green Left in the book Capitalism- Crisis and Alternatives http://www.amazon.co.uk/Capitalism-Crises-Alternatives-Sandra-Ezquerra/dp/0902869639/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336650977&sr=8-1

    This is a very serious, detailed and in depth look at exactly how the British economy could be completely re-configured to create upwards of a million ‘climate jobs’ – not just in the obvious sectors of energy efficiency, power generation, engineering etc. but in a host of spin-off industries and services.

    The key challenge is not simply to cut our energy use but to recognise that a huge reduction in the use of fossil fuel to provide energy requires an equally huge expansion of our capacity to generate electricity, to compensate, from renewable sources.

    Sean further argues that greening of the economy can only come about on the basis of democratic strategic planning and new forms of common ownership of the planets resources and of key industries.

    Thus, the logic of saving the environment, (and, with it, the human race!) points logically in a radical anti-capitalist direction. We can not leave this to market mechanisms- either of the carbon trading type or the ‘lets gamble on a future new technologies- but meanwhile It’s business as usual’ variety.

    For me, the sort of bold thinking we need is exemplified in the (now historical!) case of Lucas Aerospace (centred on Birmingham), over 40 years ago, where, faced with the prospect of redundancies, due to a drying up of contracts for the military aviation hardware they usually produced, the workforce drew up a an alternative plan to produce a diversified range of products, drawing on the skills and expertise of the workforce.

    Key elements of the Alternative Plan in the medical field were production of kidney dialysis machines, which Lucas already built, together with research into more portable models.
    Manufacture of a life-support system for use in ambulances and the development of a mobility aid for children with Spina Bifida called a Hobcart.
    But the plan also focused extensively on the development of alternative, renewable energy.
    Efficient wind-turbines, drawing on existing expertise in aerodynamics; solar cells and heat pumps; the “Power Pack” which coupled a small internal combustion engine to a stack of batteries to create cars with 80% less emissions and 50% greater fuel economy; an efficient method for small scale electricity generation for use in the developing world and a vehicle like a train but with pneumatic tyres allowing it also to travel on roads. Such a vehicle could navigate inclines of 1 in 6, compared with 1 in 80 for a conventional train, offering a huge potential saving against the need to build tunnels or make deep cuttings to lay rails.
    Despite the fact that some of these products were commercially viable and all were technically feasible, they simply did not fit the ‘product portfolio’ of Lucas or the military needs of British capitalism and, ultimately, the plan was kicked into the long grass.
    However, we need to resurrect such ideas- not these specific ones but others like them, to replace the resource-wasting and environment-degrading car industry for example. And we have to look not at what is compatible with capitalism or commercially viable but what is humanly viable and socially necessary.
    There is no alternative to practical utopianism!

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